Monday, Nov. 15, 1999. Homestead Miami Speedway. Chevrolet 2000 Monte Carlo test session. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Nine teams tested the 2000 Monte Carlo on Monday at Homestead Miami Speedway. Mike Skinner, Jerry Nadeau in the No. 25 ...
Monday, Nov. 15, 1999. Homestead Miami Speedway. Chevrolet 2000 Monte Carlo test session. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
Nine teams tested the 2000 Monte Carlo on Monday at Homestead Miami Speedway. Mike Skinner, Jerry Nadeau in the No. 25 Budweiser Monte Carlo, Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo, Geoffrey Bodine in the No. 60 Power Team Monte Carlo, Steve Park in the No. 1 Pennzoil Monte Carlo, Bobby Hamilton in the No. 4 Kodak Max film Monte Carlo, Terry Labonte in the No. 5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo and Rick Mast tested the No. 41 Kodiak Monte Carlo. The 2000 Monte Carlo has been tested at St. Louis, Talladega and now at Homestead Miami. The two-day test will conclude on Tuesday.
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
NOTE: Skinner led all Team Monte Carlo drivers with a sixth-place finish in Sunday's Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race. In the process, Skinner clinched 10th place in the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup standings. He trails ninth-place Ward Burton by 66 points heading into Sunday's NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Skinner talks about the new Monte Carlo and the season finale.
"We're starting to get the front end stuck a little bit better on the 2000 Monte Carlo. We're learning more about the cooling. With half a day under our belts at Homestead, we're really working on the chassis. When we get the chassis halfway drivable again, we'll start working on some aero stuff and some more cooling stuff. That seems to be the big thing. We've got to get this ductwork system down and get the thing where it will cool so we can make long enough runs without wide open tape. I think the car has got a lot of potential. I'm excited about it. We're overdue for a change. The car we raced here yesterday is our best race car and that's the car we're taking to Atlanta. We were fortunate enough to get out of here unscathed, so we're going to take it to Atlanta. It's got the best body on it. The RAD people have worked as hard as they could go to make the best out of the 1999 car, and it's the best it's ever been right now. We're still behind a little bit to the other cars, so we're looking forward to this new Monte Carlo. We're going to make the best of it and try to get the thing going where it's real good on long runs. That's where they're beating us so bad. We can run with them for a new laps, but that's about it.
"They keep refining their cars. When they came out with the Taurus, NASCAR gave them a license to steal. They learned their lesson on that deal, and now they're going to be pretty hard on us. Maybe the best thing that's happening to us here is that we are getting beat right now. Maybe they'll slack up a little bit and give us something. I just want it to be a level playing field. We don't need to be better than they are, but we don't need to be as far behind as we are, either. We just have a heck of a time getting grip in the race car on the long runs.
"I don't think they'll do anything before Atlanta because the points races are too close. Positions could change from second through 10th I think. There's only two points separating Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon for fifth place. We could move up to ninth if Ward had a problem or if we won the race or got a top five. We're just 66 points out. It's possible, but I'm not even thinking about that. I'm not going to Atlanta thinking about the points. The difference between ninth and 10th is not worth losing a lot of sleep over. The difference between 10th and 11th is pretty big."
"There's no sense in us crying about the 2000 Monte Carlo. We've got what we've got. We've got to go get it fixed. When the other Monte Carlo came out, a lot of people cried about it and it turned around and won a lot of races. It was a good race car. As a matter of fact, NASCAR ended up taking a lot of stuff away from it. This car is going to be OK. I've got to stay positive with this race car. I'm going to stay positive with it. This is the car we're going to be racing. Getting your lip stuck out about something it will or will not do is not worth it. You just need to go in there and get this thing hooked up. We're working on that right now. We're learning what the car likes and dislikes.
"The upper part of the grille is laid back more and the way the air spills off the nose, it's not getting as much air through the top grille. It gets good air flow through the bottom part, but every time you're taking tape off that bottom, you're losing speed. Our goal is to get the cooling where it's pretty acceptable and be able to run as much tape on it as we can. I think that's a lot of your straightaway speed and downforce. We need front downforce with that car and every time you take a piece of tape off of it, you're losing front downforce. That's the biggest thing about the cooling.
"I think the smoothness of this track definitely makes it a good place to test. We tested at Atlanta with the car, and we were pretty happy with it. Gateway was a good place to test. It's very smart for Chevrolet to schedule these tests at places we're going to race. It'll be a year before we come back here, but we'll have our notes. We'll have a starting place when we come back. Chances are we won't use one of our tests for Homestead. We'll use the information we gathered here these two days.
"I think right now, this car is equally as good to the car we ran here yesterday. We rolled off the truck faster than we rolled off the truck with the other car. We've got the same setup under it, but it's going to take something different for us. I feel like we've got a good starting place because of the way we ran here Sunday. We had a pretty good setup under the car, and I've got a good feel for the race track. Everything we're testing is good data for us. We were decent yesterday in the middle of the run. On long runs, we'd lose so much grip, we'd get bad. On short runs, we'd have to be so tight to be right later, that they were tough on us. This car is going to come out of the box pretty good. I feel good about it.
"I could see the Pontiacs for a little while Sunday. When we'd go in there and slide the wheel, they'd go in there and turn and go. The Fords were pretty much the same. We did get to race with the 22 car a lot. I think we were as good as he was and some of the other Pontiacs, but those top teams with those good drivers in those Pontiacs are awfully hard to beat right now. They've got good drivers. It's not just the car. It's the whole package.
"The 45 car is getting better every week. The 22 car has been strong all year, and those Gibbs Pontiacs are always tough.
"I think the nose piece on our old Monte Carlo was pretty awesome. I would have loved to seen the nose be more in that configuration, but I think they did a great job with the tail end of the 2000 Monte Carlo. It looks a little bit different. It's a little more into the concept like the Pontiac is. If NASCAR is going to let these guys have spoilers that follow trunk designs, and so on and so forth, we need them to design something like that because we're going to get more rear downforce. I'm not real tickled with the front of the car, but we've got what we've got and we're going to work on it and make the best we can out of it. I think it's going to be a good piece.
"I think it's going to be real good at Atlanta, Charlotte, Rockingham, Dover, places like that. You need downforce everywhere. Downforce is downforce. If you're wearing a 32nd of rubber off your tires in 15 less laps than they are, at the end of the run you're going to be in pretty bad shape. I burned the right front into the cord yesterday and finished the race with cord showing all the way around the tire. A couple of more laps and it would have blown out. There's just no grip. I'm not going to back off. I'm going to run it hard. If it will go, I'm going to make it go. That's some of the problems we've seen at Atlanta and Texas. These guys want to drive these cars hard. We don't have the downforce to drive that tire down in the ground. It's not the tire's fault. When those guys are stuck to the ground, they don't have near as much trouble."